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Innovations bring farm favorites to market early in season

It may only be spring, but some seasonal favorite foods are already showing up at local farm markets.

Consumers might not expect to see produce like strawberries until early May, but some farmers like Anne Geyer of Agriberry Farm in Hanover County have the sweet treats ripe and ready.

Geyer credits part of the early production to her farm’s low tunnels, which allow her to get a jump on the growing season.

“We place low tunnels over a portion of our 12 acres when the strawberries are planted in the fall,” said Geyer, who serves on the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Specialty Crops Advisory Committee.

She explained that the plastic-covered low tunnels create a microclimate that protects the berries from frost—allowing them to branch their crowns and develop more flower buds.

“And then the magic sauce for 2023 was that warm blast in February, so that’s what initiated a lot of blooms underneath those same tunnels,” she said.

When they removed the tunnel covers in late M...

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